2/9 Game Preview: Clippers at Celtics
The Los Angeles Clippers are expected to debut several new players when they visit the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.
The Clippers are still in a playoff spot with 26 games remaining, but decided to revamp their roster leading up to Thursday's trade deadline. They sent leading scorer Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers early Wednesday morning, and then traded starting shooting guard Avery Bradley to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
In return, the Clippers received several players and future draft picks.
Wilson Chandler, Garrett Temple, JaMychal Green and Landry Shamet were among the players acquired in the Harris and Bradley deals. The Clippers also received stretch forward Mike Muscala from the 76ers, then traded him the next day to the Los Angeles Lakers for center Ivica Zubac and forward Michael Beasley.
Chandler is out another one to two weeks with a quad injury, and Beasley is expected to be waived, but Temple, Green, Shamet and Zubac have already joined their new team in Boston and practiced Friday.
The Clippers appear most excited with the addition of Zubac, a 7-foot-1 third-year center from Croatia. His playing time began to increase just before Christmas, and he averaged 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds for the Lakers during January. Zubac will turn 22 next month.
"For two-plus seasons, we have seen Ivica up close and watched him develop into a skilled center," said Lawrence Frank, president of basketball operations for the Clippers. "For his age, Ivica has proven to be an energetic rim protector who can score around the basket. We are eager for him to join our group of promising young players."
Chandler, a 6-9 small forward, was averaging 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds with the 76ers. The 11-year veteran averaged 15.7 points as recently as two years ago with the Denver Nuggets.
Shamet, the first-round pick of Philadelphia last year, was averaging 8.3 points as the team's backup point guard.
Temple, a 6-6 shooting guard, was averaging 9.4 points for the Grizzlies, the highest mark of his nine-year NBA career.
Green is a 6-9 power forward who was averaging 9.8 points and 6.1 rebounds for Memphis. He was a starter the past two seasons, but returned to the bench this season.
The Clippers waived starting center Marcin Gortat after Zubac was acquired.
Montrezl Harrell, the fourth-leading scorer for the Clippers at 15.7 points, moved into the starting lineup for just the fourth time this season in a 116-92 loss at the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night, but he's expected to return to his reserve role with the arrival of Zubac.
The Celtics didn't make any major moves leading up to the trade deadline, which made for a more relaxed atmosphere this week, point guard Kyrie Irving said.
"The deadline was a lot for a lot of other people, I'm assuming," Irving said. "For us, we were pretty set. They made that very clear, our management, so I'm just happy that now we can just focus on the rest of the season and have some fun doing so."
The Celtics hosted the Lakers on Thursday night, another team distracted by trade rumors all week, and lost 129-128 on a last-second basket by Rajon Rondo, a former Boston player.
Boston entered the weekend in a three-team race with the Pacers and 76ers for the third-through-fifth spots in the Eastern Conference standings. The Celtics had won five in a row and 10 of 11 before their loss to the Lakers.